Some iconographers believe that there are no technical struggles in iconography, only spirtual ones. I seem to be having a whopper.
I am working on an icon of a Guardian Angel, experimenting with acrylic paints, which I haven’t used much before. Nothing is coming out right. No harmony, no beauty, no unity. I remove and repaint, cover one layer with another, getting the same results, seemingly doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again, day after day. It is very frustrating. I wanted so much for this icon to be beautiful, to express my love for my Lord. It was not happening.
I had to stop and take time to sit in silence and figure out what was going wrong. It didn’t take long for the answer to come: I had been squeezing in the painting between shifts at work, between chores and errands, painting almost on the run–overwhelmed with busyness, I was not taking time for prayer. How could I over look that? I temporarily stopped the physical work on the icon, and over the past week said the Rosary nightly instead. I did some spiritual reading, reconnected myself with the Jesus Prayer, spent time in silence and restorative prayer. Then, I began to paint again. With prayer, with silence, with mindfulness and calm. It has made a world of difference.
I am reminded that none of this work is of my own doing. I allow the Spirit to lead, and let go of my own need to control. I pray, the paint flows, and slowly the icon is coming around. There is still a long way to go, so much to repair and redo. An interesting thing is that this icon seems to be developing itself in some ways. I had envisioned a warm, glowing, golden angel, and the angel that seems to be emerging in this image is pastel-colored and much different from my other work. I don’t know how it will end up, but will continue to pray for harmony and unity within the icon and within my own heart.